Message from the Director

Dr. Susan Graham, Director of The Owerko Centre

Dr. Susan Graham, Director of The Owerko Centre

Mark Agius

It’s my pleasure to welcome you to the Owerko Centre website!

To say that 2020/21 has been an unpredictable year so far would be an understatement. Across the world, we have had to adjust our views on how to communicate, socialize, work and care for each other. The same holds true for members of the Owerko Centre research community and our families and friends. It’s been tough, but we are getting through it.

Even with the enforced shift due to the pandemic, we are still “open for business” as it were and continue to forge ahead. I’m happy to tell you about some of the exciting things we have coming up, and also a couple highlights from the past year. 

Over the summer, we hosted our third annual series of workshops for summer students in partnership with the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute (ACHRI), the Libin Cardiovascular Institute, and the Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI). This collaborative partnership was born out of the observation that summer students from across campus, and from different centers and institutes, were asking for the same types of training opportunities. The Owerko Centre was the first to create these opportunities in 2018, and through the success of our workshops, and word of mouth between trainees, a greater demand was born and requests came in from partners like ACHRI and HBI to come on board to reduce duplication and costs, but also to create opportunities for collaboration. We were happy to do so and I think the trainees are the ones who have benefited most, which was our ultimate goal.

We are also continuing to actively plan for our sixth annual Owerko Family Distinguished Lecture this October. Our invited speakers in past years have come from across Canada and the United States and have been some of the leading researchers and thinkers in their respective fields. Dr. Kimberly Noble, Director of the Development (NEED) Lab at Columbia University, was the invited speaker in 2021 where she gave a very engaging talk about how socioeconomic inequality relates to children's cognitive, emotional and brain development. In 2020, we welcomed Dr. Tracy Vaillancourt from the University of Ottawa for her amazing talk on the current state of children's mental health in Canada, as well as the links between mental health outcomes and bullying. Dr. Stephen Hinshaw, Director of the Schwab Centre on Learning Science and Learning Differences in San Francisco and Professor of Psychology at the University of California at Berkeley was our guest at the 2019 Owerko Family Distinguished Lecture where he spoke about Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and the stigma that surrounds mental health. In 2018, Dr. Peter Szatmari, Chief of Child and Youth Mental Health Collaborative at The Hospital for Sick Children and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health came to speak about his research in Autism Spectrum Disorder. We are grateful for the participation of all of our invited speakers.

2020/21 was also a great year for Owerko Centre researchers in their study of childhood neurodevelopment and child mental health. Many of our members were successful in applying for, and obtaining, competitive grant funding while at the same time continuing to publish research and papers in top tier journals.

Our membership continues to grow and attract top researchers from across the campus of the University of Calgary representing departments across the University of Calgary including Psychology, Community Health Sciences, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Paediatrics, Clinical Neurosciences, Medical Genetics, Anesthesiology, Radiology, Biochemistry, Biology and Anatomy, Kinesiology, Nursing, Social Work, Education and Public Policy.. In addition to our cross-disciplinary team of principal investigators, the Owerko Centre includes over 230 trainees from the undergraduate to post-doctoral levels. All of our members are also members of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute and we will continue to work in step with ACHRI in their journey to improve better lifelong health and well-being for children and families.

Finally, none of this would be possible without the support of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation, and the foundational gift from Stan and Marge Owerko. To them, I will be forever grateful.

Thank you for visiting our website and feel free to get in touch with us at any time!




Dr. Susan Graham

Director, The Owerko Centre